As Tyler Wilkinson steered his gold Maxima south on Intersate 75 at speeds of nearly 130 mph, the 18-year-old Lithia man was carrying three passengers, a quarter pound of marijuana and liquor in the car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
About 12:30 a.m., Wilkinson passed an unmarked patrol trooper. The Maxima's headlights were dark.
The trooper prepared to make a traffic stop, but Wilkinson took the exit ramp to Gibsonton Road and lost control, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, an FHP spokesman. The Maxima veered onto the shoulder and rolled several times, striking several trees and a utility pole.
Wilkinson and a passenger, 19-year-old Keeley Nicole Faircloth, were not wearing seat belts and were thrown from the car, Gaskins said. Both were seriously injured and taken to Tampa General Hospital.
Two other passengers — Michael Wayne Osborne, 18, and Amanda Evelyn Bohn, 17, both of Riverview — were wearing seat belts and suffered minor injuries.
Troopers found 114 grams of marijuana — roughly a quarter of a pound — and open liquor containers inside the car, Gaskins said. Investigators believe Wilkinson was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Criminal charges are pending the outcome of an investigation, Gaskins said.
"It's very fortunate that no one else was injured in this crash, but it's a reminder of what not to do when you get behind the wheel," he said. "Especially these people all under 21, they shouldn't have had alcohol to begin with."
The crash came on the same day the Highway Patrol announced a new incarnation of its Arrive Alive campaign in response to a statewide spike in serious traffic crashes.
FHP: Car clocked at 130 mph on I-75 before flipping, injuring four teens